My trials as an Orange customer

This is the story of the difficulties I have had to deal with, as an Orange customer, since I upgraded to a smartphone in August 2015. The staff at the EE store arranged for me to continue with a pay plan I had been using since 2002 with a basic mobile. I didn’t pay close attention to the details of this plan, and what the staff didn’t tell me was that this plan charges an extremely high rate for Internet access. It wasn’t smart of me not to check, but I was assuming that my pretty modest Internet use would cost something like the reasonable charges my family and friends pay for their smartphones. The end to my innocence came after a month’s use of the phone in the UK, when Orange sent me a bill of more than £900. The greater part of this is a charge of £753 before VAT for 295 MB of data access – so a charge of about £2.50 per MB. European Union regulations say that a phone provider may not charge more than, in Sterling, about 16p per MB.
What followed was a waste of hours, indeed days, of my life, as I disputed this bill by phone and by letter. Letters were ignored; eventually an Orange agent said that they don’t deal in letters, only phone calls. This means you have no record of what was said. Phone calls tended to last almost an hour, while I spent time on hold, listening to loud music. An Orange manager tried to argue I was obliged to pay the £900+ bill, because I had had this payment plan since 2002, and so I must be familiar with its details. I reminded her that the UK did not have 3G in 2002. She ignored this point, and tried to get me to agree to pay the excessively large bill by instalments, although she should have been aware that the amount exceeds the EU limit by more than £800. In all my phone calls the Orange staff refused to engage with my arguments, and appeared to be simply repeating phrases from a prepared script.
Over the next two months the bills for my continuing use of the phone charged about £2 per MB. Orange refused to move me to a more appropriate pay plan until I paid the inflated bill. It took a letter to the CEO, indicating that I was going to take the matter to the Ombudsman Service, to make them finally agree that they were overcharging. Now I have paid a reasonable charge, and I want to leave Orange and move to another provider. But they are refusing to unlock my phone until after I have had it for six months, so for the last two months I have been without any mobile phone service.
I am a deeply dissatisfied customer!

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3 thoughts on “My trials as an Orange customer

  1. I have reported them to Ofcom, the regulator. Anybody who wasn’t able to check on the internet what their rights are might have been intimidated into paying this outrageous bill. I am so glad to be free of them now.

  2. I ought to have mentioned that I am very grateful to Kristina’s husband Mark, who sent me the link to the very helpful Ofcom advice!

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